Until recently, coffee tables were something of an afterthought when it came to designing a living room that was both handsome and comfortable. Hidden in the shadow of magnificent love seats, sofas and chairs, the poor old coffee table was relegated to second place and on occasion, was omitted entirely. This has all changed, thanks in large part to the new designs that have been turned out by manufacturers in recent years that are not only beautiful, but add functionality and warmth to the living room. In fact, a carefully selected coffee table can actually become the focal point of the room, complementing the other pieces of living room furniture while becoming the center of attention in its own right. When choosing a coffee table for your living room, you want to consider two main factors: style and function.
The perfect coffee table complements your décor, of course. Ideally, you want to select a table that is in the same style as the rest of your furnishings. For instance, a country inspired design may stick out like a sore thumb in a contemporary furnished living room. Conversely, a stainless steel and glass table may look out of place in a home decorated in a tropical style, or one that features highly ornate furnishings. Unless you are an experienced interior designer, you may want to stick to with a table that is in the same general style of the rest of your furnishings, i.e., traditional with traditional, contemporary with contemporary and so on.
It used to be that all coffee tables were created equally. But no more. Today, you can get a range of models, some with features that weren’t even on the drawing boards a decade or so ago.
For instance, if you like to eat and watch TV at the same time, you can get a table with a top that cantilevers up and out, creating an eating area that is far more convenient and elegant than TV trays. If you have children, you may want to get a coffee table that has extra storage, so you can easily store kid’s toys and games while you entertain company. Some coffee tables also have thoughtful storage areas for remotes – a big help for those who have a number of them to keep track of.
If you entertain a lot, you may want to get a larger table to hold munchies and drinks. You may also want to get something that is a fairly indestructible, so that it won’t mar, stain or develop rings if your guests forget to use a coaster.
Scale is an important consideration these days, as larger living room furniture can dwarf older tables. When looking at coffee tables you want to look for one that won’t look lost in the room, overshadowed by other furnishings. Conversely, you don’t want one that takes over the room either. As you measure your room and furnishings, remember that the coffee table will be about 18″ away from your sofa, love seats and chairs. It needs room to breathe and it needs room for you and your guests to move around it without it getting in the way. Most tables are 16″ to 18″ high, but some contemporary designs can be lower, so you want to factor that in if shopping for a modern style. Ideally, your table should be one to two inches lower than the height of the seat of your furniture. As far as length, it should be about two-thirds the length of your sofa. If you have an 8′ sofa, for instance, your coffee table should be a little more than 5′ in length.
These are just general rules, however, as the exact scale is also determined by the size of the room and the location of the furniture.
Finally, you want to consider the color of the piece. While you want your coffee table to complement the other pieces you have, but it doesn’t have to be a carbon copy of the end tables or the entertainment center. Instead, it should stand on its own while accenting the love seat, chairs and sofa you have, as the table has much more in common with these than the entertainment center that’s set away from it and has a personality of its own. Remember, you want to take the entire space of the room into account, selecting a coffee table that adds to the beauty and charm, not detracts from it.
Finally, don’t rush your selection. Be sure to look through the hundreds of styles available online these days. As certain ones catch your eye, note their style, their product name and the site they were on. Then start to narrow down your choices as you consider the room, your own personal tastes in décor and the character of the coffee table that hopefully will soon become a cherished addition to your living room.
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